Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners (Part 4)

Coming up are some Darwin Award winners!


People can be so dumb, that many accidentally remove themselves from the gene pool in the most idiotic ways possible! Let's take a look at even more Darwin Award winners and people who ended themselves in the dumbest ways imaginable.

Permanent Bed Head

Moving a mattress is no easy task. With the average mattress weighing up to 150 lbs, and being pretty bulky, they need to be well strapped down when being transported on top of a van or car. This is obviously to stop the wind from catching them and tearing them off.

Although, this is some pretty basic thinking that didn’t occur to a certain 20-year-old woman back in 2016. She and her friend were trying to transport a mattress, but the thing was too big to fit in their van. Their solution? One would ride on top of the mattress, pinning it to the roof of the van, while the other drove. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, it turned out.

Unaware of how the laws of motion worked, and massively overestimating the mattress surfer’s strength, the whole thing flipped off as soon as the driver put their foot on the gas. The mattress hit the road, and so did our unlucky lady. The mattress bounced back but our mattress surfer, on the other hand, didn’t.

woman died when transporting a mattress

Struck Speechless

Road rage ain’t no joke, but it can have some pretty funny consequences if the events of September 12th, 2021, are anything to go by. At 1:30am on this Sunday morning, two drivers collided on the I-80 in California. Instead of taking their argument off to the side of the road, the drivers decided to commence arguing in the middle of the traffic lanes.

In the early morning, they must have idiotically assumed that no-one but them would be using the road and they were dead wrong. A few minutes later, both men were struck by an oncoming car and were found unresponsive at the scene. That’s certainly one way to park an argument.

men hit by car

Scrap Idea

There are plenty of safe things you can source scrap metal from; cars, old equipment, recycled cans, the list goes on. You know what isn’t safe to source scrap metal from, though? Grenades. Specifically, Rocket Propelled Grenades or RPGs, for short.

But this didn’t occur to a man in Rio De Janeiro back in 2006, who was so hell bent on getting his hands on some scrap metal, he’d do anything to crack open an old disused RPG he’d found.

Rocket Propelled Grenades

First, he tried driving over the explosive device with his car. And when that didn’t work, he decided to, carefully and considerately, smash the thing open with a sledgehammer. To no one’s surprise, the sledgehammer worked, in a manner.

Not only did it manage to open the grenade, but the force of the resulting explosion also opened up our man, six cars, and the repair shop he’d been working in. When police showed up, they found a phenomenal 14 more of these stored nearby. So, even if that one hadn’t exploded, there was a good chance one of the others would have.

smash rpg with sledgehammer

The Flying Lawyer

There are smart people, there are intelligent people, and then there are lawyers. Studying for a law degree and passing the bar exam are two of the hardest academic achievements anyone can accomplish, so you assume they’re the brightest of the bunch. But not always.

Back in 1984, a young lawyer was attending an early 4th of July party at his office in Chicago. Apparently, he got into a heated debate with one of his colleagues about the Olympics and, to settle their dispute, they agreed to have a race down a corridor of their building.

lawyers having a race

Seems like a fun, safe solution, right? It's important to mention that our young lawyer needed glasses to see long distances but had taken them off before the race, so they didn’t fall off his face. And that his office was in a glass paned, highrise building, and the pair were racing around the 39th floor.

You might see where this is heading but our lawyer definitely didn’t. As he was running headlong down the corridor, the young lawyer lost his perspective and went crashing through one of the plate glass window panes. While he may have lost the race, he did make the 400 ft journey from the 39th floor to the ground floor in just 6 seconds!

lawyer crashing through window pane

Dodging Debts

Nobody likes getting to the end of the night in their local bar and realizing they have to pay their tab. Ordering drinks for everybody seemed like such a good idea 4 hours ago!

While most people just swallow their pride and pay up, back in 2001 it was reported that two gentlemen at a bar in Cairo decided not to do this. Instead, they skipped out on their $180 whiskey tab and tried to escape by diving into the River Nile nearby.

drunk men try to escape

Seems like a smart getaway, however, through most of Cairo the Nile is around 1000 ft wide, roughly the length of 13 tennis courts laid end to end. Most people would struggle to swim that distance sober, never mind having drunk $180 worth of whiskey!

While one of the drunken duo just about managed to scramble his way to the far shore, where the police were waiting for him, the second misjudged his ability to swim that far, and never made it to shore. That’s one way to get out of paying your tab.

drunk man died in river nile

High on Life

In the US, you don’t need a license to drive a ride on law mower, providing you’re not taking it down a public road. You do need a license to operate a plane however. Seeing how complicated flying can be, you can all see why.

But this clearly wasn’t something that occurred to a father and son gardening duo, who, back in 2000, had been hired to trim the fields over at New Mexico’s Tucumcari Municipal Airport. But instead of riding their lawnmowers, the duo came up with the bright idea to take one of the aircraft for a joyride.

father-son took a plane joyride

So, while left unsupervised, they sneakily stole a small two-person Ercoupe plane, filled up the tanks, and then took off from the runway. They made it 150 ft into their ascent when, suddenly, the plane started to wobble. Most pilots would know what to do in this situation, unfortunately, neither the father nor son was a pilot.

Neither did they have any type of pilot training, or, to anyone’s knowledge, any experience of flying a plane whatsoever. As such, the plane nosedived into the ground and burst into flames, taking both idiots with it. Were they really dumb enough to think it’d just be like driving a mower, but in the air? Well, whatever they thought, this joyride ended in flames.

father-son plane joyride

A Real Firecracker

Here’s a question for you. If you wanted some firecrackers, the little explosives that make a real loud banging noise, how would you go about acquiring some? You’d most likely just buy some like a normal person.

However, according to an unconfirmed report from 2002, one man over in Croatia thought the idea of paying for firecrackers was far too safe and decided to make his own for some New Year’s celebrations. How? By using whatever he had to hand, which turned out to be a chainsaw and a hand grenade.

man cuts grenade with chainsaw

It's probably not necessary to explain that sawing into an explosive device is a really bad idea, one that cost this idiot his life. But it won him a Darwin Award, so at least he still had something to celebrate.

Gone Fishing

Have you ever heard of ‘blast fishing’? Like the name suggests, it’s where people use explosives to stun or kill entire schools of fish out in open water for easy pickings. It’s a very dangerous, and largely illegal practice.

But it’d take more than that to stop a couple of Illinois idiots from indulging in a little illegal Sunday afternoon blast fishing back in 1998. The two friends hopped in a 14 ft aluminum boat and sailed out onto the waters of Fox Lake.

Once they were far enough out, they lit up a quarter stick of dynamite, threw it into the water, and waited for the fish to float up to them. What they hadn’t realized was that they’d thrown the dynamite downwind of the boat, so a few seconds later, their boat was blown right over the dynamite.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 12]

The explosion ripped a huge hole in their boat, sinking it about 100 yards from the shore. It’s unclear whether one of them was knocked unconscious by the blast, or, more likely, couldn’t swim, but either way, he never made it back to shore. At least now he knows how those poor fish felt!


There are a few things you need to go skiing: protective wear, the right equipment, and good visibility. And, as you probably guessed, the next guy who earned himself a Darwin Award had none of these.

Back in 2002, a 22-year-old idiot and a few of his friends decided to hike up Mammoth Mountain in Nevada at 3 am for a little out-of-hours skiing session. Being a spur-of-the-moment decision, our spontaneous skier hadn’t brought anything to ski down on.

So, he decided to improvise, by ripping some of the safety padding off one of the ski lift towers, which usually protects skiers that accidently hit the big metal poles on their way down the slope.

Padding in hand, he made the huge hike to the top, hopped on, and sled down. He was having the time of his life, right up until he came to a dead stop. Literally. It turned out our stupid sledder, in the pitch black, had slammed straight into the lift tower he’d removed the pad from.

stupid skiing

Czech What You’re Taking

If you’re really going to steal something, you should probably double check what you’re stealing first. Otherwise, you’ll end up like the five idiots from the Czech-Republic who joined the Darwin Awards back in 2008.

These five dumb dumbs decided to break into an abandoned factory in the town of Kladno to steal some scrap metal. They quickly got to work breaking down a couple of upright steel girders they found. What they hadn’t realized is that these girders were the only thing supporting the factory’s roof above them.

Once dismantled, the roof, obviously, collapsed, crushing two of the thieves and injuring the three others. So, if, after that story, you’re still set on a life of scrap metal crime, remember; gravity doesn’t care if it’s an accident, or if you’re just an idiot!

roof collapsed on thieves

Bad Bungee

Have you ever been bungee jumping? It’s an exhilarating experience! But jumping off a bridge or a cliff with nothing but a big, elastic cord attached to your ankles to stop you from hitting the ground is pretty dangerous. Which is why you should always do it with professionals that have all the right gear, licenses and insurance; the exact opposite of what one thrill seeker did back in 1997.

This 22-year-old fast-food worker from Fairfax County, Virginia, decided to seek some cheap thrills by bungee-ing off a 70 ft railroad trestle bridge. The only problem was that he didn’t have access to a professionally made, super-thick bungee cord, so he made one himself. Can you guess what he made it out of, though? Bungee cords, the little elastic straps you use to keep car trunks closed or hook a sleeping back to a backpack.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 12]

Somehow, he thought strapping a bunch of them together would be enough to hold his weight when he jumped off the trestle, and you know what, it might have been, had he made the rope short enough.

In an astonishingly moronic move, our thrill seeker made the rope too long, and ended up making very close friends with the pavement 70 ft below, pancake style.

stupid man bungee jumping

A Tough Act To Swallow

Back in 1999, the most amazing Darwin Award of all time was given out to an unnamed performer from Bonn, Germany. The performer was apparently a professional sword swallower and was able to swallow a wide range of long, ridiculous objects, like swords, balloons, and even large umbrellas.

Except, one day, while he was showing off his skills with an umbrella, he apparently hit the automatic release button on the umbrella’s handle! The umbrella opened while still lodged in his throat, and the avid entertainer didn’t live to perform an encore.

umbrella swallowing

It almost sounds plausible, and while the performer earned an official Darwin Award, there are several holes in the story. For a start, the first report of this surfaced in 1997, not 1999. Since then, multiple reports of the same story have surfaced in different years, with the exact same scenario happening to a poor performer named Boris in New Jersey back in 2007.

Except, there are no obituaries or records to suggest any of these stories are real. The sword swallowing community even came together to claim it's just not possible to fit a folded umbrella down one’s esophagus, as it would be too wide! As such, this is almost definitely an urban legend.

Zipadee doo dah

Brits abroad don’t have the greatest reputation. Stereotypically, they can be loud, obnoxious, and, on occasion, so stupid that they end up earning themselves a Darwin Award. At least, that’s what one Brit did up in the Italian Alps back in 2002.

The 49-year-old climber was with his family, enjoying the incredible views from the mountains near Belluno in northern Italy. And then, in what can only be described as an utterly insane move, he snapped his mountain climbing clasp onto a disused cable car cable and tried to slide down it using his hands.

Embarrassingly Dumb Ways People Died - Darwin Awards Winners [Part 12]

For some reason, he seemed to think he’d be able to control his super steep descent using only his hands, and while everyone around him, even passers-by, tried to stop him, he ignored them and did it anyway. Perhaps the cable still had a layer of grease on it from its old cable car days, or maybe he just didn’t have the strength he thought he did.

Whatever it was he quickly lost control, which saw him smash into several rocky outcrops before coming to a dead and sticky stop on a metal support pylon about 650 ft down the cable.

brit died in cable car stunt

When you’re about to do something so dumb that a bunch of strangers butt in to try and stop you, that’s probably the point at which you should re-evaluate your life choices. Unless you’re gunning for a Darwin Award, that is!

Jailbird Learns to Fly

Jailbreaks look really cool in films and are almost always pulled off without a hitch. But in reality, they’re much more dangerous, and foolish, than they appear on the big screen, as proven by an Allegheny County Jail inmate back in 1997.

He decided that instead of staying to face the music, he needed to make a speedy exit. So, he tied together a couple of bedsheets he’d pilfered from other inmates, broke the supposedly shatterproof window of his cell, and then used the bedsheet-rope to rappel down the outer jail wall.

But there were just 2 problems with his plan. The first, was that his makeshift rope was about 60 ft long, but his cell was on the 17th story, so his rope was roughly 90 ft short of the ground.

The second, was that he hadn’t cleared the window frame of the remaining glass shards. These cut the bedsheets as he was climbing down, eventually sheering his makeshift rope in two and sending him plummeting more than 8 stories to his dumb demise. Talk about being criminally stupid.

inmate trying to escape

Slide Of His Life

So, we’ve established that people can be pretty dumb. But they can get even dumber with alcohol and it was this devil juice that saw a 25-year-old man, from Calgary, Canada, given a Darwin Award back in the year 2000.

He and his buddies had been out drinking, and they decided to continue the party at a friend’s apartment complex. That’s when one of them challenged the rest of the group by saying “who’s gonna ride the in-house water slide?”. Spoiler alert, it was not in fact a water slide, but the complex’s garbage chute.

Unfortunately, our man of the hour drunkenly took up the offer. What he obviously didn’t realize in his drunken state was that there would be an industrial trash compactor waiting for him at the other end.

chute boy darwin award

Although, that was the least of his worries, as the chute down was a near vertical 12 story drop, over 100 ft. Well, by winning a Darwin Award, at least his passing didn’t go to waste, unlike his body.

Pastor Eaten By Crocodiles While Trying To Walk On Water

There’s nothing wrong with following a faith but following one to your death isn’t worth it, as Pastor Jonathan Mthethwa supposedly discovered. According to multiple tabloids, back in 2017, this pastor of the Saint of The Last Days Church in White River, Mpumalanga, promised his congregation he would demonstrate the strength of his faith by walking on water.

In the whole week leading up to the event he fasted and prayed, and when that fateful morning came, he waded out 100 ft into the river. But before he could attempt the biblical recreation and claim he was Jesus reborn; 3 huge crocodiles quickly swam up and devoured him.

pastor eaten by crocodile

Somehow, Pastor Mthethwa had missed the memo that this river was nicknamed ‘crocodile river’. Church Deacon Nkosi supposedly said that, after 30 minutes, there was nothing left of the Pastor except his sandals and underwear.

Tabloids all over the world rushed to report the story, but something wasn’t quite right. The first tabloids to report the story were in Zimbabwe, but White River is in neighboring South Africa. How would anyone in Zimbabwe have gotten the story first?

It turned out the whole story was just a spoof; something someone in the newsroom had cooked up for sensationalism. But the fact that so many news outlets and people believed it tells us a lot about how little faith we all have left in humanity!

Brazilian Balloon Priest

Anyone who does charity work is an incredible human being, in my humble opinion. But while done with the best intentions, some feats done in the name of fundraising can be straight up stupid.

Case in point, we’ll rewind to 2008 and head over to Paranaguá, Brazil. This is where a catholic priest was busy filling up 1000 helium balloons while planning to break the 19-hour balloon cluster flight record to raise money for a spiritual rest area for truck drivers in Paranaguá.

He’d made an attempt earlier that year using 600 balloons but had only managed to stay airborne for 4 hours, and had drifted 16 miles to San Antonio, Argentina. Convinced he just needed more balloons, the persistent priest, who was an experienced skydiver, packed a flotation device, five days of food and water, a thermal flight suit, a parachute, a helmet, several cell phones, and a GPS device.

Seems like he thought of everything, only thing was he didn’t actually know how to use the GPS device. Not only that, when he was released, the weather was really overcast, so people on the ground lost sight of him very quickly.

Watch on YouTube

He was planning on landing in Dourados, some 550 miles away in more Central South America. But the thing with balloons is that they follow the wind. So, without any way of steering himself, when a rogue gust of wind blew the flying Father off course, he was carried out to sea.

Later that evening, perhaps realizing he couldn’t work his GPS, he rang the military police, who confirmed he was actually about 16 miles out from the islands of Tamborete. And after that, they never heard from him again. Clusters of balloons were found in the ocean the next day, and three months later the bottom half of the floating father was discovered 62 miles out from Macaé.

So, what happened? Had he risen too fast too quickly and run out of oxygen when he got too high? Had the balloons failed and sent him crashing into the ocean? Had he been caught in a storm?

priest fly in balloon died

It seems he didn’t realize he was that far out over the ocean until it was too late, and then crash landed. He might have survived for a short time out in the water, but with his cell phones and GPS waterlogged, not even he could have survived three months out in the open sea. Well, at least, in his final days, this priest literally got a little closer to God!

If you were amazed at these dumb ways people died, you might want to check out our entire Darwin Awards Series. Thanks for reading!

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